“In Winter’s Kitchen,” by Beth Dooley

No better time than November to read this elegant collection of essays by Twin Cities writer Beth Dooley. “In Winter’s Kitchen” opens and closes with two different Thanksgiving dinners — one that Dooley cooked as a young bride right after moving to Minnesota, and one many years later. In between those two holidays she tucks fascinating reported essays about people who are devoted to local foods — small farmers, cheesemakers, bakers and others.

Dooley laces the essays with her own memories of growing up on the Jersey Shore and buying food with her grandmother from roadside stands, moving to Minnesota and discovering the Wedge Co-op and farmers markets, and learning the pleasures of cooking with fresh locally produced vegetables, creamy butter, free-range turkeys, cave-aged artisan cheese.

Her descriptions of food will make you hungry (even the lowly potato: “delicate Colorado rose, buttery Yukon gold, nutty-tasting fingerlings”), but of even more interest are her portraits of the high school students, Hmong farmers, Native ricers and others who are making good, simple food their life’s work. Read this, and you’ll never look at your Thanksgiving cranberries the same way — or any other food.

LAURIE HERTZEL

 

Quarantine Reads are recommendations of soothing books during fraught times. Send your suggestion, with your name and city, to books@startribune.com.